Archive for January, 2013

LBJ’s calls to Eastland & Stennis (audio recordings)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The Miller Center at the University of Virginia has an extensive archive of presidential recordings.  I ran across it last week and had some fun listening to President Lyndon Johnson speak with various historic figures and I made some notes on his conversations with Mississippi Senators Jim Eastland and John Stennis.  The notes are by no means comprehensive.

Here is a little more about The Miller Center from its web site.

Between 1940 and 1973, six American presidents from both political parties secretly recorded just under 5,000 hours of their meetings and telephone conversations.

Through a combination of historical research and annotated transcripts the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program aims to make these remarkable historical sources more accessible to scholars, teachers, students, and the public.


Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon

Transcripts & Virtual Exhibits
Listen to Secret White House Recordings
Classroom Materials (Presidential Classroom)

Here is a bit about the Johnson Recordings:

Between 1963 and 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson secretly recorded roughly 800 hours of conversations. The collection primarily consists of telephone recordings that Johnson made during his time in office. In 1968, Johnson began recording meeting conversations.

The Johnson Presidential Library hosts a searchable online database that can be used to search the over 6,000 conversations currently available. The database may difficult for first-time users, so we have created a help page with instructions on searching the collection.

And here are my notes (with links to the audio) of various calls between LBJ and Mississippians:

November 28, 1963 - calls Jim Eastland to wish him Happy Birthday, also wishes Mrs. Eastland a Happy Birthday, Jim talks to LBJ about a letter from him and Stennis on returning Congressional patronage to Jamie Whitten

November 28, 1963 - calls Jim Eastland about dropping his committee’s investigation of Kennedy assassination and instead create a joint committee

November 29, 1963 - calls Jim Eastland to tell him about the Kennedy assassination investigative committee he is going to announce the Warren Commission - Eastland suggests using someone other than Earl Warren who will be too political - LBJ says Warren is the Chief so he needs him - LBJ asks Eastland to protect his flank in the Senate

December 2, 1963 - calls John Stennis on reducing military costs (Stennis says to the President, “that’s fine ol boy”)

December 6, 1963 - called by John Stennis (LBJ interrupts a meeting to take his call) about a cotton bill and inaction by Congress to pass it

January 28, 1964 - called by John Stennis because NASA Administrator Jim Webb was supposed to speak to the Jackson Chamber of Commerce that evening but canceled when he found out it was a segregated event - LBJ tells Stennis not to call him about things like that, not to get him involved, that they have a rule not to speak to segregated events and Webb should have checked on that earlier

March 18, 1964 - calls Jim Eastland to get advice on passing cotton & wheat legislation - Eastland tells LBJ to call George McLain, publisher of the Tupelo Journal, to deliver Mississippi Congressman Thomas Abernethy - discussion of the politics of agriculture and food stamps and race - (call continued here) - Eastland tells LBJ the newspapers can handle the Georgia boys but LBJ said he can’t handle the newspapers - LBJ gives a list of Congressmen he needs help with

April 1, 1964 - called by Jim Eastland who wanted to set up a private meeting with him along with John Stennis

May 26, 1964 - talks with Jamie Whitten on appropriations and budget politics

June 23, 1964 - talks with Jim Eastland about missing civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Eastland said that Governor Johnson believes the missing workers is a staged event and there is no violence, LBJ tells Eastland that J. Edgar Hoover just called him and told him they found the burning car

June 23, 1964 - talks with Governor Paul Johnson about missing civil rights workers, tells him Allen Dulles is coming down - Johnson gives LBJ a general update (call continues here)

June 24, 1964 - talks with John Stennis about his conversation with Governor Paul Johnson and tells him he is sending Allen Dulles down as an impartial observer LBJ tells Stennis, “I love ya and I know your heart is bleeding and mine is, too”

June 26, 1964 - LBJ and Allen Dulles talk with Governor Paul Johnson - Dulles refers to “terroristic activities” - Johnson praises the Mississippi National Guard saying they would do their federal duties well and serve the President better than they’d serve himself - Johnson said he has given the state police statewide police powers and they have established a law enforcement training academy

July 3, 1964 - talks with Gov Paul Johnson about the weather and cattle - discuss cooperation between state and federal investigators - general update on search for civil rights workers - Johnson complains about the national news media

August 11, 1964 - garbled but Jim Eastland discusses with someone legislation regarding Catalina Properties that Kennedy and Johnson both vetoed - Eastland mentions he wants Jackson County to be able to purchase an island in the Gulf of Mexico

August 15, 1964 - LBJ asks Eastland if they’re working him too hard and Eastland said no, he had a few drinks.  Then LBJ asks about his nominee Phil Nichols to be Customs Court Judge.  Eastland mentions a FBI file (conversation redacted) then LBJ explains Eastland is talking about the wrong guy. They discuss Bobby Kennedy’s political future and LBJ asks Eastland who he thinks would be a good Vice President.  Eastland said he doesn’t know but he thinks it should be a Catholic.

August 17, 1964 - Eastland calls LBJ and says he and John Stennis are sitting around talking and want to know if Mississippi is going to be seated at the Democratic National Convention.  LBJ says no one knows until the credential committee acts. They discuss the process and the politics and LBJ’s prospects for reelection (conversation continued here).

August 22, 1964 - LBJ updates Eastland on the Credential Committee feelings toward seating the regular Eastland supported delegation at the DNC. The Freedom Democrats would be given tickets and seated in a different part of the convention hall and given a resolution.  LBJ says both sides can claim victory that way but in four years and afterward there would be fully integrated conventions. Eastland tells LBJ he would call Governor Johnson and LBJ asked to hear how the call goes.

August 22, 1964 - A follow up on the previous call, LBJ says Gov. Johnson has handled the missing civil rights workers and burning churches as intelligently as could be expected. More talk about the convention.

August 22, 1964 - Eastland calls LBJ back.  Eastland reads LBJ a statement he prepared for the credential committee but said it didn’t seem to impact it any.  The credential committee is in the process of meeting. LBJ continues to stress that the delegation needs to affirm its intention to support the nominees of the convention. Eastland says he thinks this has gotten out of hand.  LBJ gets frustrated near the end and says to affirm to support the nomination and not get into the history of the past hundred years.

August 22, 1964 - LBJ reads to Eastland the statement he would like the Mississippi Regular Delegation to agree to and sign. They discuss the convention some more.  Eastland says he will call Governor Johnson again.

August 23, 1964 - LBJ: “Jim?” JE: “Yeah, how are you, Mr. President.” LBJ: “You got everything straightened out?” JE: “No. I haven’t gotten anything straightened out.” LBJ: “Well, by God, I turned it over to you, I thought you’d have it fixed.” — They discuss the convention and Alabama was seated and LBJ thinks that’s encouraging for Mississippi. Eastland is calling from “a resort out on Eagle Lake.” LBJ says laughing “I don’t care about carrying Mississippi, I don’t think I’ve got a chance…I’m gonna let Goldwater cut out all your damn subsidies, cut your $6 billion cotton program. I’m gonna balance my budget.”

August 23, 1964 - More talk between LBJ & Eastland about the Convention.  Eastland says if anything happens, “I’m gonna leave this lodge and I’m going to Tumminello Restaurant in Vicksburg.” LBJ gets the spelling of the restaurant and tells him he will be in touch.

August 23, 1964 - More on the Convention between LBJ & Eastland with some talk about then MS Supreme Court Justice Tom P. Brady.

August 25, 1964 - LBJ tells Eastland he wants the Regular Democrats seated on the Floor with all the votes and the Freedom Democrats not on the floor but the delegation has no business demanding who else can or can’t be in the convention. LBJ asks Eastland to help him with this situation.  Eastland says they’re dealing with forces down in Mississippi. LBJ says this is a victory and Eastland gets everything he wants, the Regular Democrats get every vote, every seat, every badge, etc but they don’t need to cause problems if others are seated as a symbolic representative without votes. Eastland says Governor Johnson is the one who is upset.  LBJ: “Well, Mississippi, you and I have got to take care of them.” LBJ talks about John Stennis and Jim Webb and Paul Johnson. (Conversation continues here.) LBJ once again explains the Freedom Democrats will be delegates at large from the country, not from Mississippi, and Governor Johnson doesn’t seem to understand that.  If he fights that it hurts Mississippi. Eastland says he’ll talk to Paul Johnson.  LBJ tells Eastland to call him, Eastland says he will but it will be in the morning, LBJ says hell no, this thing will be over tonight so just call him.

January 22, 1965 - LBJ calls from his bedroom, and tells Eastland he wants his advice on picking an Attorney General. They discuss Nicholas Katzenbac, Clark Clifford and Abe Fortas. LBJ says he wants Fortas. Eastland says he doesn’t think Jewish organizations want a Jewish Attorney General. LBJ says everyone is entitled to their own representation.  Eastland talks about representing the outlaw Kenny Wagner who he says killed 11 men.

April 23, 1965 - Eastland suggests to LBJ that he gets a cotton man to handle his cotton stocks for the government.

August 6, 1965 - LBJ tells John Stennis his Attorney General will call Stennis and Governor Johnson.  LBJ asks about Mrs. Stennis: “Give a little hug to her for me and keep one for yourself.” LBJ talks about the confirmation vote for J.P. Coleman to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and notes he only got 7 votes against him and that Stennis should tell Coleman he runs better in Washington DC than he does in Mississippi.

August 18, 1965 - LBJ jokes to John Stennis that J.P. Coleman snuck into town, got sworn in, got on the payroll, and got out of town without getting a picture with him for every newspaper in Mississippi to ensure he would never get elected in Mississippi again.  LBJ tells Stennis he wants to get out of Vietnam before we get in a war with Russia and China.  LBJ asks Stennis in his public debates to not mention any dollar amounts that the the Vietnamese could use to leverage greater support from Russia and China.

August 6, 1968 - LBJ asks John Stennis to drive over to the White House and meet with him and General Westmoreland over coffee.

State of the State Word Clouds

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Last year I generated word clouds of the first State of the State of each Governor Musgrove, Governor Barbour and Governor Bryant (here). This year, here are a couple of word clouds from Governor Bryant’s second State of the State Address (top) along with the Democratic response (bottom). I know the column to the right obstructs the view of the word cloud, but if you click on the cloud you’re interested in you can see it fully.

MS Senate 16 Special - Campaign Finance Reports

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Two candidates are seeking to fill the seat of Senator Bennie L. Turner who passed away late last year: attorney Angela Turner-Lairy (the late Senator’s daughter) and Kenny Fowler.

While partisan indicators do not appear on the ballot, Turner-Lairy is a declared Democrat (like her father) and Fowler is a declared independent.

Turner-Lairy is a West Point and Clay County prosecutor. As reported by the Starkville Daily News, her campaign manager is Representative Tyrone Ellis (D-38).

Fowler is a community volunteer for the West Point High School Athletics Department.

As there are only two candidates, there will be no run-off.  I expect Turner-Lairy to win. The election is tomorrow (January 15).

Here are a few notes on the campaign finance reports:

Angela Turner Lairy

Raised $1040 (Chuck Easley $500; Clare Hester $500)

Spent $4276 (DACO LLC for yardsigns & push cards $3426)

Kenny Fowler
Raised $448

Spent $1805.96 (on Almond Printing Company for yardsigns)

MS Senator David Parker finalist for political award

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Newly elected Mississippi state Senator David Parker has been named a finalist for a national political award for his “Sky Signs.”

From a Campaigns & Elections press release -

January 8, 2013 – Arlington, VA – Today, Campaigns & Elections announced the finalists of the fifth annual Reed Awards. The finalists represent the top talent in the political consulting business in the fields of Direct Mail, Online Advertising, Newspaper Advertising, Phones, Political Technology, Signage and Collateral Material, Radio and Television.

Winners will be awarded for their 2012 campaign work, in the following categories, at The Reed Awards Dinner on February 1, 2013, in Washington, DC:

Yard/Outdoor Signs

Ray Withy – “Sailing Away” - Indie Politics

Pigeon Forge Alcohol Ballot Initiative – Yard Sign - Calvert Street Group

Ron Kim for Assembly Sign - The Parkside Group

Tarleton Yard Sign - Argo Strategies

Yes for West-MEC Bond - HighGround, Inc.

David Parker for Senate – Sky Signs - Capstone Public Affairs, LLC

The Reed Awards recognize excellence in campaign management, political consulting and political design and bestows honors in more than 90 categories. The competition also includes 15 special categories such as Best Campaign Comeback and Most Daring (and Successful) Tactic.

Winners, selected by a panel of over 20 judges representing the industry’s best campaigning experts, will be announced at the 2013 Reed Awards on Friday, February 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. Chosen from the largest and smallest organizations in the industry, the winners will represent the latest techniques and talent in the business.

Winners will receive a crystal statue and recognition in Campaigns & Elections in print and online. The awards, named after Campaigns & Elections’ founder Stanley Foster Reed, embodies his mission to strive for excellence in political campaigning.

Josiah Coleman sworn in to Mississippi Supreme Court

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I enjoyed the swearing in ceremony today as Justices Michael Randolph and Leslie King returned to the Mississippi Supreme Court and Josiah Coleman was sworn in as the newest justice.  His formal investiture will be in Oxford later and the other justices, keeping with tradition, won’t partake in additional investitures.

(Justice Bill Waller, who performed the swearing-in ceremonies, was also reelected last year but was not sworn in during the ceremony today.  I’m sure there is some reason of protocol concerning the Mississippi Chief Justice that explains why.  Considering he is the first Chief Justice in at least twenty years to be reelected to retain his position, there may be a special ceremony for him. Due to the way the seat rotations and election years fall, Waller takes office on his new term in January 2014 and will be sworn in then.)

Here is the Court’s press release on the event.

Thomas Coleman, father of Josiah, served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.  J.P. Coleman, Josiah’s grandfather, served as Mississippi Governor and Attorney General, served on the Mississippi Supreme Court and in the Mississippi legislature, and served on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here is a picture of Josiah - now Justice Coleman - with his wife Ashleigh and the administering of the Oath by Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr.

MS House 59 Special - Finance Reports: Powell & Lum leading

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Campaign finance reports filed Wednesday for the House 59 special election show Brent Powell and Bradley Lum as the leaders in money raised through December 30.

Candidate - Raised - Spent - Cash-on-Hand

Brent Powell - $22,150 - $20,473.90 - $1,676.10

Bradley Lum - $15,525 - $14,825.39 - $499.6

Benny Hubbard - $2,440 - $2,106.59 - $333.41

Scot Allen - $0 - $842.50 - $0

Notes from the Campaign Finance Reports

Brent Powell:
Spent: Billboards - $6750; Newspaper Ads - $2877
Major Donors: Billy & Barbara Powell & MS Coalition for Progress PAC (both at $2000); John McGowan, Nat & Cynthia Prestage, Billy Mounger, Larry Johnson, Julius Ridgway Sr., Jim Rawls, George Dennis (all at $1000)

Bradley Lum
Spent: Newspapers $100; Magnolia Tide (campaign management) $2621; Stoneridge Group (direct mail) $10,162.36
Major Donors: Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads, John Lassiter, Alman Realty & Assoc, Barry Jackson, Donald Richard Partridge (at $1000 each); Nucor Steel Recyclers of MS PAC, Joshua Kyle, Will Etheridge, Eric Eaton, Harry Cole, Kevin Watson, Environmental Technical Sales (at $500 each)

Benny Hubbard
Spent: Push Cards $830; Yard Signs $1324.34; John Graves (GOTV) $1594.34
Major Donor: MS Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers PAC $500

Scot Allen
Spent: $350 Jackson Jambalaya Ad
Major Donors: None

General Observations:

Brent Powell certainly has the Republican Party “establishment” on his side which can be important in a special election held at a time when nothing else will draw people to the polls. His father, Billy Powell, is a former MSGOP Chairman and a longtime leader in Rankin County Republican politics. He will have an advantage with the party activists who always turn out and vote every time regardless of when an election takes place. I’ve seen more of his yard signs in residential areas than the other candidates and his larger signs in commercial areas and paid signs (billboards) appeared to me to be up first and most.

Jackson Jambalaya broke this news on Powell:

The Circle Bend Homeowners Association sued Brent Powell for nonpayment of homeowners’ association dues in Rankin County Court in August 2012. Mr. Powell is a candidate for House of Representatives District #59. The election will be held on January 8.

Mr. Powell owns a duplex unit on 121A Bent Creek Circle in the Northwoods subdivision in Rankin County. Circle Bend filed a lien on the property on June 22, 2012. The complaint includes a letter allegedly sent to Mr. Powell by attorney Ernest Stewart. The letter demands payment of $1,555. There is no service of process in the file. The Rankin County Tax Collector’s website states the property was subjected to a tax sale for the prior year’s taxes in 2011 and 2010. The complaint asks for damages of $1,555, court costs, attorney’s fees, and interest (8% per year) and states Mr. Powell did not pay the dues from 2007 to 2012. Efforts to contact Mr. Powell for comment were unsuccessful.

While Powell’s opponents could use something like this to attack him, I haven’t heard that any are using it (yet) in direct mail, phones or other methods to reach voters. To mix cliche and literature: if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, this attack is full of sound and fury signifying nothing. If voters don’t know it; it didn’t happen.

Bradley Lum has organized a strong campaign effort.  A few waves of effective and positive direct mail, targeted phones and neighborhood walks, and a sign blitz that by my observations rivals the support of Powell, he is executing a basic campaign plan that can win an election.  But Lum has his own problem as reported by The Clarion Ledger:

Rodney Keith, a supporter of one of Lum’s opponents, Brent Powell, said he will file by the end of this week a formal challenge of Lum’s candidacy. He said he is filing the challenge on his own, not for Powell’s campaign.

The state Constitution requires a candidate be a resident for two years of the legislative district for which he seeks office. Lum said he bought his home in Flowood in August 2010.

But records show Lum voted twice in August 2011 in Hinds County and that he served as a poll worker there, claiming Hinds County residency. The House District 59 seat for which he is running serves the Reservoir area of Rankin County and parts of Flowood and Brandon.

As with Powell, unless Lum’s opponents somehow push this information to the voters, this has little impact on the race at this point. The State Board of Election Commissioners already approved him on the ballot.

I expect Powell and Lum to be the leading vote getters. In a special election like this, voters generally turn out to support somebody in particular. Attacks don’t persuade voters in this kind of an election but could suppress passive voters; however, passive voters likely wouldn’t be going to the polls anyway. Every election is about voter turnout, but special elections (when only that election is on the ballot) are won by campaigns with active GOTV strategies.

The election is this Tuesday (January 8).  Unless a candidate gets 50% plus 1 of the votes, there will be a run-off in three weeks on January 29.

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